Last week cloud BI vendor Birst announced changes to its executive line-up. Firstly, sales veteran Jay Larson (previously from Jive Software, SuccessFactors and Mercury Interactive) has stepped into the role of Chief Executive. This means Brad Peters, the company’s co-founder and former CEO, has taken on the newly created position of Chief Product Officer, as well as being Birst’s Chairman.
This isn’t unusual behaviour for a maturing technology company. Many technology start-ups originally have their founder as CEO but evolve and grow before reaching a tipping point when things need to change. This appears to be the case with Birst. The company can no longer be regarded as a start-up: founded in 2005, it has now raised $64 million from investors, $38 million of which was raised last year, which has set it on a steep growth trajectory and one that will hopefully see the company IPO in the next few years. With Jay at the helm the company can now utilise his go-to-market sales expertise to expand the customer base and footprint further in new industries, enterprises and geographies.
Whilst the company sells both indirectly and directly, the latter still accounts for the lion’s share of revenue and that’s where we expect Birst to target its future focus with the help of Jay, specifically in the enterprise market. The company has been successful in introducing mid-market customers to BI (where cost and complexity tend to be prohibitory) and at the same time it’s gaining traction in enterprise accounts. Building its market share here however requires a different and more subtle approach. One such nuance is the need to integrate and augment with existing (sometimes on premise) BI implementations, since many already have some form of data warehouse and BI tool capability in place but need to extend this to the cloud. Providing this level of flexibility and compatibility will be crucial if Birst is going to carve out its place in the enterprise.
Likewise, we suspect Jay’s involvement in growing SaaS-based SuccessFactors before it was acquired by SAP in 2011 and his role at Mercury before its HP acquisition will come in handy too, especially since we wouldn’t rule out Birst being acquired by a larger vendor at some stage in the future (if one of them wants to fast track their cloud based BI capabilities).
With these changes, in his new role Brad now has the opportunity and capacity to go back to his roots and focus on what originally established him in the technology sector—the product. Having co-founded and built the company to its present state and having been involved in building up Siebel Analytics (before it was acquired by Oracle) he now has the chance to go back to his product roots and help Birst grow into a bigger and better BI player.
If you’re interesting in learning more about Birst then please watch out for MWD’s On the Radar profile report which we’ll be publishing shortly (to make sure you don’t miss that, sign up at the bottom right hand corner of this page for research updates from our analytics research program).